Why Dave Ramsey’s Financial Advice Is Toxic AF

Dave Ramsey has become a household name for many of us, and like any sensational movement, his methods can be polarizing, controversial, and toxic (much like the man himself). He was someone I knew of, but to be honest, I hadn’t paid much attention to him until this past year when a tweet of his went viral in my social media circles. The tweet reads, “If you’re working on paying off debt, the only time you should see the inside of a restaurant is if you’re working there.” 

So that means that for any of you with tens of thousands in student loan debt, you’re basically effed if you want to do anything outside of work, picking up a second (or third job) or side hustle, cutting ALL unnecessary expenses like therapy, Netflix, internet, or anything over a budget cell phone plan. You know, until you’re “worthy” of being able to eat at a restaurant again because you’ve paid off your “bad” debt.

Much like the diet industry, Ramsey has built his business around shame. Shaming you for not working hard enough and shaming you for not being where you want to be because you don’t work hard enough (hello, cis, white, male privilege?). Furthermore, Dave believes a credit score equates to you loving debt and believes debt is not a tool to be used, but instead a horrible transgression to be repented for and corrected as soon as possible. I could go on for hours, but instead, I’m going to pick a few key points about dear old DR, and elaborate on why they’re toxic and what alternatives you have! (Because trust me, you have them.)

Scarcity Mindset

Rooted in shame, guilt, and “faith,” Ramsey vilifies, debt, credit cards, mortgages, car loans, and credit utilization of any kind. What his methods don’t take into consideration is how beneficial credit cards, mortgages, and other loans requiring credit can be when you don’t have the generational cash flow to buy things outright. Take me, for example. I bought my first house the month I turned 20, with an adjustable mortgage (gasp), and I put just the bare minimum (or 3.5%) down as a down payment. My mortgage payment came out to $1,000 a month, when I had previously been paying $757 for a 1 bedroom apartment (it was 2010 people, calm down). 

Had I tried to save up the $160,000 my first house cost, I would still be saving for it while I continued renting. Having available credit on my credit cards also gave me the ability to leave my first marriage when I was still a broke twentysomething. Debt can ALWAYS be paid back. Repeat after me: debt is just a tool to be used.

Even more radical, I recommend asking for a credit line increase on your credit cards once a year. Not only does this help you by showing you have more available credit and you’re using a lower percentage, but it’s there in a true emergency situation to pay for groceries, gas, insurance, and more. Expert tip: You should also ALWAYS accept a credit line increase when the credit card company offers them!

Thousand-Dollar Emergency Fund

In order to allocate as much money as possible toward paying off debt and minimizing interest payments on things like student loans, cars, credit cards, mortgages, etc, one of DR’s main tenets is to save $1,000 for an e-fund and then direct ALL other money toward debt payoff. As many of us may have recently realized when the $1,200 stimulus checks hit the bank, a $1,000 emergency fund may sound all fine and good, but when shit really hits the fan (you know, like a worldwide pandemic) $1,000 isn’t even a drop in the bucket in the bigger picture of your bills.

So what can you do instead? Assess your personal expenses and review what a realistic amount is for your emergency savings. I normally recommend at least three months of your base expenses (rent/mortgage, credit card payments, utilities, food, gas, insurance, etc). Three months may not seem like that much, but it can normally be stretched longer than that with unemployment benefits, decreased gas (if you’re not working), fewer bottles of wine, etc. The next step would be to have six months of your average income saved, which can then be stretched to 9-12 months. 

Your employment industry, and whether you have multiple jobs or a side hustle, all factor in as well, because what are the actual chances of 100% of ALL income sources going *POOF*? Honestly, fairly slim. The goal is to have an emergency fund, not a long-term savings fund. So save what you feel comfortable with and then start working to pay your debt down/off.

Debt Snowball vs. Debt Avalanche

A debt snowball is where you list your debts in order of lowest total balance owed to greatest balance owed, and you start paying your debt off in that order (smallest to biggest). While this can provide a psychological win right off the bat (woohoo my $500 credit card is paid off), it’s not actually the most cost effective method, because your smallest balance doesn’t always equal your lowest interest rate. 

Cue the debt avalanche method: You rank your debts from highest to lowest interest rates, and start paying off the most expensive debt first. I recommend a hybrid approach and tell clients to knock out their smallest one or two debts (if they’re less than $1k), and then roll into the avalanche method. This combines the psychological win of debt being paid off, with actually saving you the most money in the long run.

Student Loans/White Privilege

Mr. Ramsey is a BIG fan of telling students and their parents that they shouldn’t take out student loans and should only go to colleges they can pay cash for. Because you know, students looking to go to med school or law school (or obtain some other type of degree and aren’t able to bankroll it) just shouldn’t be able to get that degree then. Or *GASP* they should wait until they’ve saved up enough money to pay for it outright. Furthermore, they should do this while working other jobs to save and waste years of compounding income in their chosen profession. This doesn’t take into consideration anyone that may have a less-than-privileged upbringing. Instead, he assumes most people are being lazy instead of acknowledging the inherent assumptions of white privilege he extols as virtues. 

Student loans are serious. Yes, I don’t recommend taking them out willy nilly, using them to pay for all of your living expenses, and then not paying a damn bit of attention to how that money gets spent. Or even worse, taking out extra above and beyond what you need to pay for items that aren’t needed. However, I stand by my statement that debt can be a FANTASTIC tool when used well, but it’s up to you to learn more about your intended field for work, and confirm that the loans you’re taking are a smart investment in your future self. And guess what? If they are, then do the damn thing!

Overall, Dave Ramsey’s opinions are not the wave of the future, but a hindrance on millennial money growth. My hope is that we can learn better methods and leave the toxicity behind.

Images: Teerasak Ladnongkhun / Shutterstock; daveramsey / Twitter

Why You Need To Start Investing Now & How TF To Do It

Even though more womxn are working and earning higher salaries than ever before and breaking glass ceilings all over the damn place, we’re still behind when it comes to retirement and investing—yet we live longer than men do. So what gives? 

Well, a lot of the womxn I know in my life feel like they have time to wait, they can invest later when they have more available cash, after they save for a wedding, or after they pay off student loans or credit card debt. Or it’s just not that important right now. Even worse is my biggest pet peeve: that they can rely on their spouse’s 401(k). In other words, they’re contributing to their spouse’s retirement for THEIR future. Well, I’m here to tell you that in most cases, you’re wrong. 

You need to be investing what you can, right now. Not only for your future self, but for your present self. So you can change things in the world, literally put your money where you mouth is (or values are), and invest in ESG or SRI stocks (aka, socially, environmentally, and ethically conscious investments). Plus, if you walk away from a marriage or a relationship, you need to have your own damn money to fall back on. Yes, you can have a healthy relationship while still prioritizing your own financial well-being.

And if you’re over there thinking you’ve got it all figured out because you have a good chunk of money in a savings account, kudos. Money in savings is a GREAT first step, but even in the highest interest savings account you can find, your money is still worth less with each passing year. The only way to combat that decreased buying power is by investing that money in something that beats the rate of inflation (which has been an average of 3.22%/year). 

First, I’m going to define a few important terms I’m going to use throughout this article:

Compound Interest/Compounding Returns: Interest/returns paid on both the principal balance and on accrued interest/gains.

Retirement Accounts (SEP IRA, Roth IRA, 403b, 401k, Traditional IRA, etc): A plan for setting aside money to be spent after retirement. For the purposes of this article, the retirement accounts I refer to are all qualified retirement accounts per the IRS. Some of them help you pay less in taxes now (SEP/Traditional IRA 401k), and some help you pay less in taxes later (ROTH). For these accounts, you can’t take your money out without incurring a 10% penalty before the age of 59 ½. This is to incentivize you to keep your money in here, and not touch it until you’re actually retired (and also why I recommend also having savings accounts and non-retirement investment accounts).

Investment/Investment Account: A type of account that is post-tax, doesn’t have any long-term retirement benefits, but money can be withdrawn at any time, regardless of your age.

Inflation: A general increase in prices and fall in the purchasing value of money.

Why You Need To Invest

We’re going to talk about compound interest here for a minute. One of my strongest beliefs is that you should get retirement and investment accounts set up first, followed by a savings account. That’s because your retirement and investment accounts will generally give you an 8% average return over a 10-year period. 

Now we’re going to do some math (I know, but trust me, it’s important).

If you’re 25 and invested $5,000 now, contributed $100/month to retirement for the next 40 years, and retired at 65, you’d have somewhere around $470,467.71. If you waited until you were 30, invested $5,000 and contributed $100/month for 35 years and retired at 35, you’d have $310,851.00. That’s a difference of almost $160,000, and the amount invested only decreased by $6,000 (5 years of $100/month).

Even crazier, if you’re 20 and invested $5,000, contributed $100/month for 45 years, and retired at 65, you’d have around $708,271.99!!

So when I tell you that compound interest is important and that investing something now is better than investing a larger amount in a few years, trust me on it.

How To Invest

Invest in yourself and your future right now, even if it’s only five dollars a month. Something is better than nothing, and like I talked about above, compound interest is your friend when it comes to taking care of your future self. 

If you have a retirement plan offered through a job, you can start now by:

Opening a retirement (or multiple) accounts (if you don’t have access to one through a job).

If you have one through your work, you want to contribute to both a ROTH and regular option. ROTH contributions help future you with taxes, and regular/traditional pre-tax options help you with taxes. 

If you’re self-employed or don’t have a retirement plan offered through a job, you can start now by:

Opening two types of retirement accounts: a ROTH and a Traditional IRA (or a SEP IRA if you’re self-employed).

You want to open and contribute to both types of accounts because post-tax ROTH contributions help future you with taxes, and regular/traditional pre-tax contributions help you now when it comes to taxes.

Whether you have a retirement plan offered through your employer or not, I recommend splitting your pre- and post-tax contributions 50/50, so if you can set aside $50/month for now, I’d send $25 to a ROTH and $25 to a Traditional account. I also recommend opening an investment account, then a savings account. I like Ellevest and Betterment.

That’s it. Your step-by-step guide to starting investing today (in like 15 minutes). You’re worth it, and the world needs more womxn investing and taking control of their financial future.

Images: Startup Stock Photos / Pexels

WTF To Do If You’re About To Graduate

It’s been over six weeks since seniors in college began to realize that the Senior Spring they had been dreaming about since their first semester wasn’t going to happen. No darties, no senior week, no thesis presentations, no more wine nights with your roommates, no more chances to shoot your shot with that guy in lecture, and no walking across the stage in a cap and gown to tie it all up. For a lot of seniors, this news hit hard because, aside from all of these losses, it felt like the world was telling them they needed to become full-grown adults a few months before they were ready (if any of us can really be ready to enter into the real world). In March, rather than May, they had to face the inevitable truth: college actually does end. 

As April comes to a close, and as some of us have maybe gotten into the swing of online classes, virtual graduation dates are fast approaching. So what does life look like when college actually ends during a pandemic? Many seniors are feeling the weight of the highest unemployment rate since the Great Depression and the impending recession pressing down on them. Many have had start dates pushed or jobs offers rescinded altogether. All in all, it’s a clusterf*ck, leading many to wonder: what the hell should we do? Betches spoke with career expert Joy Altimare for suggestions on how new graduates can prepare to enter this now-f*cked-up workforce.

Do: Use This Experience To Your Advantage

me, turning my wifi off & on again: i am a woman in STEM

— Karen Chee (@karencheee) April 23, 2020

Recent grads can and should use this online term to their advantage. “Recent graduates have an advantage,” Altimare told us, “The new normal in the workplace will look a lot like how they have learned during the last four years.” So basically, all that time you spent on social media during class was not time wasted, and simply knowing how to set up a video chat puts you ahead of the curve. (If you think I’m exaggerating, ask your parents to make a Zoom call, and realize that’s what most companies are dealing with.) Altimare says, “virtual and tele-learning are very similar to how professional environments will operate moving forward.” Wow, I can’t wait to tell my mom that I actually learned something useful in college (how to open a bottlecap with a spoon does not count, apparently). 

Altimare also advises new grads to tell companies what you learned from online classes, and apply that to a professional environment. She says, “now more than ever, employers are looking for very smart individuals who are energized to help navigate this new normal.” So, we should “tout that as a skillset unique to the existing workforce and provide examples to demonstrate how you can apply this approach to add to the success of the company.” This could mean showing off that you know how to change your Zoom background, or explaining how you can stay efficient and motivated in any environment. If you’ve figured out how to manage your time during these insane past few weeks, that is definitely a skill you should want to share with future employers. 

Don’t: Forget About Networking

I feel like as far as social media goes, LinkedIn is definitely the awkward middle child. In the midst of a pandemic, it feels even more forgotten. Like, when was the last time you actually thought about logging on? Even though it may be the last thing on your mind, it’s still super important to keep networking. “Continue to use technology to network,” Altimare tells us.“Do not go dark on your LinkedIn and make sure your Facebook/Instagram/Twitter do not only contain videos of you doing a #dontrush challenge.” I guess I’ll keep my challenges to TikTok, since I’m pretty sure nobody is networking on there.

What you put on social media is just as important as ever, so before you go posting all the pictures you’ve had stashed of you chugging alcohol underage, Altimare advises that “It’s super important that you use this time to demonstrate resilience and positivity across your social platforms.” She recognizes that it doesn’t necessarily fit into everyone’s aesthetic. “You don’t have to begin a daily gratitude post,” she says, but “it is important to show you’re using this time to stay focused—are you helping the elderly in your neighborhood? Ask others to join you vs. just posting you delivering meals. Are you organizing a virtual yoga class for your friends? Show that instead of the virtual happy hour on your feed.” 

Don’t: Spend All Your $

I’m a huge “add to cart, check total, close window” girl, but quarantine has led to more than a few “treat yourself” moments, which I justify by telling myself I’m saving so much money since I’m not eating or going out. Since we can’t have nice things, apparently this is not the move, according to Altimare. “Start saving your money… in fact, massively start saving,” she says. “You are probably not in the dorms, not going to the movies, not buying your food and not going to any of the activities that you would have had to contribute to for your senior year.” Okay, you didn’t have to rub it in like that, but I see the point. Even more, Altimare says, “if you are really lucky, you’re staying with your parents, so you’re not paying for rent. That is a huge lift to your bottom line—save that money.” I mean, she’s right considering the job market is unstable right now… I just want my tie-dye loungewear.

Altimare warns that if you’re imagining all the ways you’re going to indulge once you can leave your house, you might want to think twice: “when the country begins to re-open, do not spend that money on a trip with your girlfriends.” Altimare suggests “look to creating a nice nest egg—something around 3-months’ worth of expenses—so that when you finally find that job and move out into your own apartment, you have a bit more comfort.” 

Do: Start Working From Home

What’s the age where you transform from ‘young professional’ to ‘professional’?

— U Up? (@uuppodcast) April 17, 2020

Altimare’s last piece of advice for new grads is “if you can, try to start working from home.” Everyone has so much time on their hands (especially when school is over and you don’t have a job), so “use your creativity to turn a hobby into a lucrative side-gig while we’re all quarantined.” If you’re looking for ideas, Altimare proposes to “try to get published on a weekly blog, or begin selling your wares via a marketplace.” And then, of course, “save that money!”

The prospect of starting your adult life right now does not sound appealing to anyone. However, if you can make a few proactive and productive decisions during this period, you might be able to save yourself some stress later on when we finally get out of this mess (BTW can someone tell me when that will be?). Hopefully, these tips can help you get a head start on where you want to be and what you can be doing to help your future. 

Images: Pang Yuhao / Unsplash

Realistic ‘Money Diaries’: How Much It Really Costs To Move

As you well f*cking know by now, we here at Betches consider it our duty in life to rip Refinery29’s Money Diaries a new one. Seriously. That’s in our official company policy. Look, if they’re going to continue to “break down barriers” and promote the struggles of Olivia Jade full-time trust fund babies and part-time influencers, then I’m going to continue to anonymously blast them about it on the internet, and I won’t apologize for that! We’ve already discussed how it costs a chill $2k to even breath in cities like New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Portland, and now we’re financially breaking down everyone’s favorite topic: moving.

If you’re anything like me, then moving feels like the undocumented 10th circle of Hell, right after that one about treachery. And I should know, because in the past 4 years I’ve moved four times, two of which involved moving to a different state. Yep, you heard right: FOUR TIMES. If you’re wondering where my mental stability is after said moves, let’s just say I’d rank it somewhere between Khloé Kardashian aggressively screaming “LIAR!” into her phone in the latest trailer for KUWTK and Britney Spears shaving her entire head in 2007. I hope that paints a clear enough picture for you. I think we can all agree that moving is not fun, and it’s hella expensive—especially if you’re moving in or to a big city. And since I’ve done both, and there’s nothing in this world I love more than b*tching about my own life, I thought I’d document my struggles for your viewing pleasure. For the sake of time (and your sanity) I’m only going to talk about the two moves that involved moving in and out of New York City, as those were the most expensive moves by far. You’re welcome.

1st Move: NC → NYC

When I first graduated from college, I realized that just because I had a degree in creative writing and listed “senior send-off T-shirt designer” for my for my sorority as my greatest career accomplishment, didn’t mean anyone would actually hire me. Which felt—and still feels, quite frankly—extremely unfair. Not everyone can come up with a slogan as catchy as “adios bitch-achos” and convince 100 something white girls to all agree on it, okay!!

I spent the first 9 months after graduation doing literally any freelance opportunity I could to pad my resume while living at home and applying for more full-time positions. The February after graduation, I landed a job in Manhattan as a publicity assistant for a major book publishing house and essentially had to move my entire life from North Carolina to NYC in a shorter amount of time than Forever21’s return policy—and you know that sh*t is a quick turn around.

The Basics

Occupation at time of move: Book Publicist/Aspiring Writer/Actively Trying To Marry Rich
Industry: Anything that would accept my creative writing degree
Age at time of move: 23
Location: New York, NY
Salary: $35,500
Moving Stipend: Lol. Companies actually do this? Just because I was hired at one of the largest publishing houses in the world doesn’t mean they would give up any of the billions of dollars they make a year to help my entry-level ass move. In fact, I was only given three weeks to move from North Carolina to New York City, find a place to live that didn’t end up with me a) living in a cardboard box or b) becoming the plotline of a Law & Order episode, and the only help they gave me was to “accidentally” change my start date to one week earlier.
Savings at time of move: $3K

What I Paid For During The Move

Moving truck rental: $900
Gas, toll fees, etc.: $500-$1,000

(I’m going to be completely transparent here, I was lucky enough to have my parents help me out a ton for this move. At the time, I was freelancing and only had about $3K in my savings, which, as you’ll see below, was almost entirely what was needed to pay upfront for my apartment. I know not everyone is lucky enough to have their parents help them move or help them fund said move, so keep this in mind if you’re having to move completely on your own.)

Apartment fees (deposit, 1st/last month rent, etc.): $2,850. My first apartment in New York was located in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn but, like, before Bed-Stuy had coffee shops that served avocado toast. I distinctly remember a cab driver making a crude comparison to Bed-Stuy and a war-torn country and then telling me to pack up my things and “run while I still can.” And they say New Yorkers aren’t friendly or helpful! My rent for one bedroom in a four bedroom apartment was $950 a month, and I had to put down essentially three month’s rent up front with first, last, and security deposits. This is not uncommon in the New York area, which was a shock to me. This was practically everything I had in my savings account, and I hadn’t even gotten the keys to my goddamn apartment yet.

^^Actual footage of me during my move

Furniture: $800. Fun fact: even if you’ve accumulated furniture throughout your life, don’t think you can bring it to this trash city, because odds are it won’t fit in the 300 cubic square feet your landlord is pretending is a bedroom. When I moved to New York I had to buy all new furniture because the bed and dresser I’d had from home wouldn’t physically fit in the limited space I had. Most of the furniture I bought was from Amazon and Goodwill so, like, cheap finds and it STILL cost me close to $800 when all was said and done.

Random Moving Costs: Can you put a price on your sanity? What about the Metrocard I had to buy before getting my first paycheck? Let’s just round this number $300 and call it a day.

Total Cost of Move: $6K. That’s right. SIX THOUSAND DOLLARS, and that’s mostly for rent and actually transporting my sh*t from point A to point B. That doesn’t even include any of the fun stuff like room decor or the boxed wine I needed to dull the sting of my savings being set on metaphorical fire. 

2nd Move: NYC → NC

Cut to 3 ½ years later and I moved back to North Carolina from NYC. I won’t go into the details as to why I moved—you can read my sappy, wine-induced Instagram post for that—but I’ll just say it was time for a change. I’d been applying for jobs in North Carolina while I was still living in the city, but I actually ended up moving before I had another job lined up. This was a huge risk and, as my mother so sweetly told me several times during the course of this move, I could have really screwed myself. That said, I made saving a major priority before going into this move. I didn’t want to have to rely on my parents again, and I knew I could possibly be without income for a few months. See? I’m learning! And they say you can’t teach a basic betch new tricks. 

The Basics

Occupation at time of move: Just Actively Trying To Marry Rich (Kidding! I was also freelance writer, if you can call aggressively pitching Riverdale related content to any outlet that would listen “writing.”)
Industry: Parental pity
Age at time of move: 26
Location: Greensboro, North Carolina
Salary: $300-$1,000 depending on amount of freelance gigs I could hustle each month.
Moving Stipend: Do the Cheetos my dad sprung for at the 7-11 in bumblef*ck Virginia count? No?
Savings at time of move: $10K

What I Paid For During The Move

Moving truck rental: $900
Gas, tolls, etc.: $500-$1,000

Apartment fees (deposit, 1st/last month rent, etc.):  $100. When I left the city I moved back in with my parents *shudders* but this also meant that I was living rent-free for a bit. I did owe $100 to my Brooklyn landlord for “miscellaneous damages” to the apartment, despite the fact that he could not name (or take photographic evidence of) one actual damage that he charged me for. K.

Furniture: +$200. I actually made money here because I was able to sell back some of my tiny-ass furniture I bought for NYC that I would no longer need once I moved to a city that wasn’t garbage. Blessings. What I couldn’t sell I left on the street to be fought over by my neighbors like the last weapon in The Hunger Games

Random Moving Costs: $500. I may or may not have locked my keys and cell phone in my apartment mid-move. To set the mood for you, I spent the last two days before my move saying goodbye to my life in the city by binge drinking for 48 hours straight, as one does. My dad flew in approximately 12 hours before we were set to drive 13 hours back to North Carolina with all my sh*t and found me curled in the fetal position in my dog’s bed amongst piles of trash bags full of clothes. In the remaining 12 hours before the move, we managed to pack up the rest of my stuff, get dinner, see a show, and get approximately 4 hours of sleep before waking up at the crack of dawn to pack the truck. So, to summarize: I was severely hungover, exhausted, and in the midst of heavy lifting when I found out I’d locked my keys and cell phone in the apartment halfway through packing up the car. I think this is perhaps the best representation for my state of mind upon realizing what I’d done:

Long story short, after attempting to break into my own damn apartment, having my neighbors threaten to call the cops for said break-in, begging to use a random person’s cellphone to call my landlord, trying to call my landlord and crying when I realized it was a Jewish holiday and he would perhaps get back to me in the next 1-2 weeks, and finally using my dad’s apple watch to call my mom who called a local locksmith in the area, we were able to get back into my apartment to finish the move. For a cool THREE HUNDRED DOLLARS. Add in all the boxes and packing materials I bought, and we can just round this cost up to $500 here I think.

Total Cost of Move: $3K

What I Learned

As you can see from this deep analysis of my psyche finances, moving is f*ckingggg expensive. And I’m only describing the moves that occurred across state lines! I also moved once while living in New York all on my own, without a car, or my parents to listen to me whine about it help me. Two months after moving to North Carolina, I moved into my own apartment in Greensboro, which effectively drained the rest of my savings. Will I move again, you ask? Only if I feel like sabotaging my own happiness in the near future. So, yes, probably.

That said, I have learned a few things about moving. For one, savings matter, especially if you’re moving on your own without any parental pity outside financial assistance. It was key to my second move. I also learned that just because you have enough money for rent doesn’t mean you actually have enough money to move—you might end up spending three times what your monthly rent costs. Also, don’t drink before your move. Just don’t do it.

Images: Giphy (4)

Realistic Money Diaries: How I Survived In San Francisco On $45K A Year

You might remember that Refinery29 published a failed attempt at a ‘Money Diaries’ about (what they consider) relatable women who live in f*cking expensive places. The reality is that these stories actually sound like someone is calling up their d(z)addy every time they want to go to Glossier or brunch. Meanwhile, the rest of us are here having sleep for dinner, wondering what the heck we’re doing wrong.

Now, five years or so after college, one might say I occasionally can treat myself to an avocado toast or a non-happy hour drink. My poor (literally) post-grad self might have *slightly* moved up in the world (you might find me freelancing on resumes and sh*t on Betches because I’m a freak and have a *passion project*), but it wasn’t always that way. So, what better way to explain that than to pimp out the first few years of my twenties. Here is a much more realistic money diary of how I lived in San Francisco during these miserable years of my life.

After graduating from UNC-Chapel Hill as a journalism major, I decided, “why would I use everything I learned in the last four years towards my future career? I’m going to go into sales.” So, I moved to SF after getting an entry-level job at an ad tech company. After landing the job through one of my sister’s friends (networking at its finest), I accepted a $45K salary and moved to one of the most expensive cities in the country. Good job, brah.

The Basics

Salary: $45,000
For some perspective, there was actually a homeless man (Google: The SF Bushman) that was reported to make over $60K from his “street performance” in SF. So, the fact that I was making $45K was pretty dismal. Oh, and the average salary in SF is well over six figures, making it impossible to find a place to live that doesn’t resemble Harry Potter’s cupboard under the stairs.

Rent: $1,300
At first, I was paying $1,600 for a crappy apartment with this dude who was not only like 15 years older than me, but also was most likely a drug dealer (this part would have been fine if he shared). Two months in, I actually found out the apartment had f*cking fleas. I *immediately* exited the vicinity. Thank u, next. I ended up finding a place for $1,300. The new apartment was 500 square feet for two people (and somehow included a living room, kitchen and bathroom) but hey! At least I was flea-free.

Bonuses: $200/mo
I got paid overtime at this job so on average about an extra $100 a paycheck, so $200 in total. TBH this feels like a waste of money considering the slave labor coffee runs I was being forced to do on a daily basis, but whatever, money is money.

The Sh*t I Paid For

Internet: $50
Ugh. Literally, what does a girl have to do to stream Riverdale on a Friday night? Give up her first-born child to Comcast? I am literally not even a human without working internet so my roommate and I split this bill.

Phone: $Free$
At this point, I was traveling for work so I asked my company to pay for my phone bill. They said yes. You never know until you ask, right?!

TV: $10
Cable’s going to be a no for me, dawg. Luckily, my roommate was in the same situation, so cable was a no-go. If I had to choose between a few bottles of wine and getting to watch The Bachelor on time, I’m choosing wine. Sorry, not sorry Chris Harrison. I did treat myself to Netflix and steal my parents cable password so I did not die of boredom.

Groceries:  $60/week ($240/mo)
Trader Joe’s frozen meals literally (not literally) became my bitch. I mean, have you ever tried their fried rice? Five stars. If I could get two meals out of a $5 bag, that was great. This and the fact that I actually couldn’t fit in my kitchen if I ate bread the night before (that small, yes), meaning that I highly overused the microwave. TBH, I probably did this 3-5 nights a week.

You might have noticed that I only talked about dinner. Welp, in full saving mode, I ate the cheese out of the snack fridge at work most of the time for lunch, making some sort of sandwich. OFFICIALLY EMBARRASSED AT MYSELF. WOW.

Life tip: if you do this, just conveniently end up on a call or in the bathroom when the office admin asks where all the snacks went.

Transportation: $65
Having a car in San Francisco is basically equivalent to asking someone to break in and steal your sh*t. Enter: monthly clipper card (SF version of a subway card).

Gym: $0
What’s a gym?! Coming out of college, my metabolism was still fast AF (as if I needed another depressing thing of the past to come up while writing this post) so luckily, taking runs around San Francisco was enough to keep me *somewhat* in shape. That and the fact that my meals consisted of half a Trader Joe’s frozen meal.

Clothing: $30
I should have mentioned: I interned for free in NYC at Condé Nast for three summers prior, so I had artfully mastered the ability to make a Forever21 sale rack look like Balenciaga. I remember I let myself buy one new thing from Forever21 (specifically, yes LOL) a month, for about $30.

Self-Care: $0
I’ll be honest, this first salt mine job had occasional perks (occasional being the KEY word). Once in a while, one of the more senior account executives would take me with clients to get mani-pedis (this counted as a “meeting”), so that was covered in terms of making at least my hands look halfway decent. For everything else, it really didn’t happen while I was at this company. Once I actually cut my own hair (terrible idea, never do it) because I needed one so badly and ended up looking like Janice Ian from the BEGINNING of Mean Girls.

Savings: $100 ($50 from each paycheck)
Put $50 from every paycheck into index funds because my mom had sent me a graph about some sort of compounding sh*t.

The humiliation is sinking back in. I was actually the LAMEST 21-year-old in a new city because welp, money. I don’t have a budget for this because I DIDN’T HAVE ANY FRIENDS, OKAY? Geeeeez. Why are you making me think back to this time in my life?

The Numbers

Monthly Salary: $2,400
Paycheck came to about $1,100 each time after taxes (f*cking taxes). I got paid twice a month. This meant one of my paychecks went entirely to rent plus about $200 in bonuses a month. In total, take home $2,400 a month.

Rent: $1,300
Leaving me with a measly $1,100 (I’m honestly shocked looking back at how the EFF I did this). I’d burn through that in like, one trip to Whole Foods now.  

Other expenses: $595

So with $595 I like, I don’t know, tried to make a friend after moving to San Francisco. Maybe you know, treat myself to fight off the depression. Extra guac on my Chipotle burrito. Or go to a happy hour once in a blue moon.

What I Learned

To get *real* for half a second here, the hardest part of this situation was actually that I was lonely AF. I mean, not having enough money to socialize after moving to a new city is just plain pathetic and miserable. In hindsight, I also wish I had given myself more experience in a field that was growing.

I interned at Condé Nast (trying to be like Devil Wears Prada or something WHO KNOWS WHAT I WAS THINKING) for my summers during college. Although the experience was cool AF (wassup Anna Wintour), I was interning a) for free and b) wasn’t getting any experience in an industry that was growing (I was working in print magazines, for reference).

I also studied NEWSPAPER JOURNALISM college. That was literally the dumbest decision ever. Because when the eff did you last pick up a newspaper?

But *somehow* I survived. Barely. The trick was really keeping my expenses down. And even though I’ve moved on to other things, there will always be a little place in my heart for Trader Joe’s fried rice.

Images: Ian Schneider/Unsplash

How To Bring Up Salary During A Job Interview

Want more honest career advice? Pre-order our third book, When’s Happy Hour!

The feeling of finally getting a job interview is pretty f*cking exciting. Someone has finally noticed you out of the stacks of attempted IG models hungry applicants and you are well on your way to a life of $5 Starbucks drinks and being able to renew your Netflix subscription. Literally, I was worried for you.

It’s been all fun and games while you’ve been submitting your resume, until you realize you actually have to have an adult conversation and ask about your potential salary during the process.

Even though you want to be as ballsy as Ellen Pompeo negotiating that $20 mill, the reality is that most employers have tons of applicants to choose from. Sounding all high and mighty about how much you *deserve* to be paid could land you calling your parents asking for help on this month’s rent check.

Employers know that the novelty of money spent on PSLs fades. IMO, most truly want someone who wants to be there. Partially because they’ll probably work harder, and because no one wants to have to deal with a negative Nancy in the cubicle over.

We all know that you, the betchiest queen betch out there, deserves more dough than the bagel shop on your street, but how the f*ck are you supposed to ask about salary without sounding like a total prick?!

Don’t Make It About the Money

As much as you believe you are Lord Disick Beyoncé a really rad betch, no one wants to hire someone who is only there for the paycheck. Even if you are (that can be our little secret).

Before you ever talk about money with an employer, make sure to sell the sh*t out of why you want the job. You can even throw a line in like, “Working here would align with my career goals and above all, I’m most excited about the opportunity. I’m sure we can agree on something within your range”.

You really want the employer to know that when you do have the money talk, you are interested in the job, and not JUST the paycheck.

Wait To Bring It Up

In an ideal world, you would not bring up the money topic first. This is not some DTR conversation where you are trying to be a modern woman. Let the employers take the lead here.

If you are absolutely in a bind and need to know how much a job pays before moving forward—I get it. I spent too much at the Nordstrom anniversary sale this year, too. Try waiting until at least the second interaction to bring this up. When you do, phrase it as a question and ask who you can chat with about salaries.

A company doesn’t want to go through the hassle of interviewing you and then not being able to hire you for something as simple as money (apparently time is precious). I’ve personally found that most ask about it right away.

Always Ask About “The Range”

Regardless of the way money is brought up, you want to be as in control of the conversation as Taylor Swift is of her narrative. This means giving yourself the opportunity to make f*cking bank negotiate with the hiring team.

The trick is to ask about the range for the position. Whichever way salary is brought up, always ALWAYS respond by asking if there is a range. It’s worth it for you to ask about salary this way because you avoid the possibility of pigeonholing yourself into a higher or lower number than the company had in mind. Besides, no one likes a pigeonhole.

Figure Out If You Can Afford To Take The Job

You’ve had the most adult conversation there ever was and chatted money with an employer (mom will be so proud when she hears this). There are two scenarios that could happen when you hear their salary range…

It’s great and you officially look like that emoji with dollar signs for eyes. The aforementioned range is way higher than you were going to ask for. Instead of low-balling yourself, you took our advice (you’re welcome, BTW) and say, “I think we can agree on something within that range.” Or…

It’s so low you actually feel like the weight of gravity on your shoulders. You’re stressing because you are probably not going to be able to afford the Barbie dream house you’ve always wanted by selling Fit Tea on Instagram. Basically, you need this job, but the pay sucks.

It’s completely acceptable to say you were expecting something higher. If you do, make sure to pair it with a reason, such as “this role is significantly more responsibility than my last, I was expecting to be compensated for that change” OR “I was looking for something closer to X and I believe my background matches that request.”

Only Negotiate If You Are Willing to Take the Job

This is the moment where I tell you not to be a total asshole. If you ask for a higher salary and it’s given to you—take the f*cking job.

All industries are small. Hell, I meet people all the time that are literally coming back from my past. So play the money game respectfully when it comes to asking for more. You should absolutely ask for more. Just don’t have someone fight for more money for you, only to then turn down what you asked for.

Basically, be a greedy betch without being a greedy b*tch. Kapesh?!

… And you’re off. You can officially start winning the bread for your 300 square foot apartment while polishing the crown for the queen we both know you are. It will be no time until you are sitting in that corner office mentoring some baby betch on how she can talk about salary during a job interview.

Before I officially vom from all this inspirational sh*t, don’t forget to pre-order our THIRD book, When’s Happy Hour? now! It’s all the real career advice you won’t get from like, your guidance counselor.

Want more honest career advice? Pre-order our third book, When’s Happy Hour!

Images: Unsplash/Brooke Lark; Giphy (3)

Common Mistakes That Could Ruin Your Credit, According To An Expert

Once you’ve been weaned off The Bank of Daddy and are forced to deal with your own finances, sh*t can get pretty scary. There’s more to that plastic card than just swiping, so we enlisted Alexa von Tobel, the founder and CEO of LearnVest and the Chief Innovation Officer at Northwestern Mutual, for some serious help. Alexa is also The New York Times bestselling author of Financially Fearless, so clearly she knows what she’s talking about. Here, we asked her all about credit—how to build it, how to ruin it, and why you need it. And for more career and adulting advice, pre-order our third book, When’s Happy Hour, here!

How do you get credit?
Building your credit isn’t complicated, but it takes time, discipline, and a bit of knowledge. First, you’ll need to apply for a credit card. If you don’t have at least a passable credit history, actually getting a traditional (aka: unsecured) credit card in your name can be surprisingly difficult. So if you can’t get approved for an unsecured card, consider signing up for a secured credit card.

Next, start building your credit. There is a myth that using more of your available credit translates to a higher credit score. The opposite is actually true. In reality, lenders worry that you’re in over your head financially when you spend a big chunk of your credit line. To help assess this, they’ll look at your credit utilization ratio. This is the percentage of your total credit limit that your current balance represents. For instance, if all your cards give you access to $20,000 of credit, and your current balance is $5,000, you’ve got a credit utilization ratio of 25%.

The most important thing to remember when building your credit is to get serious about due dates. I recommend that people request recurring transfers or autopay via your bank. Make sure though that you’re setting an amount that is doable for your budget. Creating calendar events on your phone so you receive alerts before each bill’s due date is also a great method.

What ruins your credit?
Not making payments on time is the biggest factor that affects your credit score. It’s important to realize that it’s not just lenders that report to credit bureaus. Things like medical debt and missed utility payments can also ding your credit report.

The second-largest factor that can hurt your credit score is the amount you owe across your credit accounts. The biggest influences on this calculation are either your credit utilization ratio or the percentage of your available credit that you’re actually using. So, making sure your balances don’t balloon can go a long way toward helping maintain a good credit rating.

I also advise people to refrain from opening too many credit lines at once. This triggers a “hard inquiry” on your credit report. But closing credit accounts you already have could impact your length of credit history negatively. Even if you don’t use a card often, keep it open and charge something small on it every once in a while.

What do you need good credit for?
You need good credit for almost everything! Having good credit sets you up for success when you need to apply for a loan or line of credit. Your credit can help determine whether you can even get a mortgage or car loan in the first place. Plus, you could even miss out on a perfect apartment rental or job opportunity—both landlords and employers have been known to check out an applicant’s credit history. Having no credit at all or bad credit means that you either won’t be approved by future lenders or may have to deal with some unfavorable lending terms, like paying higher interest rates.

What’s a good number of credit cards to have?
There’s no magic number for how many credit cards a person should have. It all depends on what type of person you are. Responsible users may benefit from having multiple cards. If you pay off your balance in full each month, it can be a good strategy for a few different reasons. You can reap more rewards and boost your credit score.  If you’re self-employed or a freelancer, it can help with easier bookkeeping because you could keep your work and personal expenses separate.  

Despite the potential benefits of having multiple credit cards, there are drawbacks. And the stakes are high: If you destroy your credit score by, for instance, consistently missing payments on multiple cards, it could take years to rebuild that number. Plus, carrying a greater number of cards means the potential for racking up a greater amount of debt overall.

Bottom line: don’t open more credit cards that you can manage. Be honest with yourself about your spending habits and responsibility.

Should I just have a regular credit card with a bank or is my retail card helping me with credit?
I would recommend having a regular credit card with your bank or choosing one of the cards I mentioned. This depends on your spending priorities and goals. Retail store credit cards that people open at the register because they get 10% off their purchase right on the spot, can hurt your finances.

This is because retail cards tend to have higher interest rates than regular credit cards. They also tend to have lower credit limits. So if you spend a lot on a retail card, it could look like you’re close to maxing out your limit. This could hurt your credit utilization ratio, and thus, your credit score. Also, their “special offers” (like getting 10% off on the spot) could end up costing you. Retail stores are known to dangle deferred-interest offers in front of consumers without properly explaining what that means. In a nutshell: You don’t pay interest on your purchases for an introductory period. But, if you have any outstanding balance left at the end of that period—no matter how small—you’ll be back-charged. That would be interest on all the purchases you made in that time frame.

For more career and general adult life advice, pre-order our third book, When’s Happy Hour? and stay on the lookout for our new podcast, When’s Happy Hour!

3 Little-Known Ways To Get Designer Clothes For Cheap

Ever since I can remember, I’ve had an affinity for the finer things in life. And, ever since I can remember, I’ve never been able to afford them. It doesn’t help that no one else in my family has ever shared my intense passion for “errrythangg designer”. Even so, from a young age, I’ve been obsessed with finding designer clothes for cheap, at prices my measly babysitting gigs could support. I legit would come home from school and spend hours trolling Ebay for authentic Juicy Couture purses. (If only my young, naive self knew that my coveted Juicy Couture would be available at fucking Kohl’s a few years later, smh.) Anyway, I would visit TJ Maxx and Marshalls MULTIPLE times a week, and spend hours sifting through the racks in hopes of finding a designer piece at an unthinkable price. I would even go so far to hunt through the racks of Goodwill, where I once found a 100% cashmere Ralph Lauren sweater for $10. And I still have that sweater today.

I was addicted, and this far-from-mild obsession made me into the financially conservative label whore I am today. (Talk about an oxymoron.) There’s just something soooo inexplicably satisfying about owning something of value, quality, and reputation, and knowing that you got it for a fraction of the price. It gave me, and still gives me, a sense of pride and accomplishment in something that most of the world would view as simply superficial and materialistic. It’s an obsession I’ve never grown out of, and in today’s world of advanced technology and instant gratification, I’ve never had to. In fact, it’s easier than ever. Here’s how I now shop for all my designer pieces from the comfort of my couch. Go ahead, name your first born after me. You’ll still owe me. 

1. TJ Maxx Runway

I’m all about women supporting women, so instead of being selfish as I normally would choose to be, I’m going to share with you one of my best kept fashion secrets: TJ Maxx’s Runway section. If you’ve been to a TJ Maxx in a wealthier area (aka one without a Dollar General in a 20-mile radius), you’ve probs seen the Runway section somewhere in the store. There’s some great finds in there, but the real treasure is the Runway section online. How did I afford brand new Céline sunglasses or a YSL bag on a retail store manager’s salary? That’s how. They have tons of amazing designer finds—everything from bags to shoes to jackets to makeup, and they add new stuff every day. It’s a label-obsessed poor girl’s heaven! The only downside is that you cannot search the site for specific designer names, which is part of how TJ Maxx is able to sell these pieces for significantly less. Part of their agreements with the brands is that they’re not allowed to advertise the designer names that they carry. Fine by me. I’ll take my bag for a grand less in exchange for a little extra scrolling. That’s fair.

2. The RealReal

The RealReal is the best place online to get designer clothes for cheap. Of course, they have accessories and whatnot too, but the real advantage to this site over TJ Maxx Runway is the ABUNDANCE of designer clothes. This is due to the fact that The RealReal is a designer resale site. Now, before you go sticking your nose in the air over the word “consignment,” know that there is a HUGE selection of designer clothes that are brand new, with tags and all. Basically, it’s a collection of all the stuff that spoiled bitches have just had sitting in their closets for months and months, but never wore. I personally give zero fucks if the item I want has been worn before, as long as it is in good condition. I’ve even ended up buying Alexander Wang pieces that were new, with tags, for under $40. The other aspect I love about this site is their thorough and trustworthy authentification process. Look, I’m a Virgo (aka I’m anal) and I like to know that what I’m spending my hard earned money on is the real deal. The site is also always doing sales, markdowns, and promos, so whether you’re looking for a brand new or gently used designer item, you’re going to get an amazing deal.

3. Designer Consignment Shops’ Instagrams

In today’s world, where everyone and their grandma is on social media, you can bet designer consignment shops have their own social media pages. These days, most of them even have an accompanying online site so that you’re able to shop the pieces from their store, even if you can’t actually get to the store. They also use their social media accounts to give their customers exclusive updates about the latest pieces to come in, even before these pieces have the chance to hit the sales floor. And, if you follow your local designer consignment shops, you usually have the option to call the shop and put an item from their Instagram on hold. Or, if they don’t do holds, tell your coworkers you’re having “woman problems” and speed over there ASAP to purchase it. Trust me, getting that Fendi bag for $200 is worth the reprimand from your supervisor.

Even if you’re #poorAF, or your live-in boyfriend just won’t let you spend $2,000 on a bag (IDGI???) you now have some secret loopholes to still get the designer pieces you’re craving. I will warn you though, if I go on the TJ Maxx site today and there’s no good designer shit left I may have to fight you. Until then, happy shopping, my fellow bougie bitch.

Images: @mehhag / Unsplash; Giphy (3)